The tissues of the body protect us and enable many of our essential functions, but they're also very sensitive. The eyes and skin are two of these tissues that need to be properly nourished throughout our lives. Lutein is one way to give your eyes and skin the extra nutrition they need to remain healthy.
The Basics of Lutein
Lutein is a carotenoid, which is a type of compound or phytochemical within plants that provides color. As we'll discuss in a moment, lutein also functions as a potent antioxidant within the body. To get more lutein, you can start by adding lutein-rich foods to your diet. Lutein is commonly found in fruits and vegetables that are orange or yellow in color, like carrots, as well as dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. Lutein is also available in supplement form in varying strengths.
Lutein for the Eyes
As an antioxidant, lutein protects the eyes from the damage of free radicals. Free radicals are a byproduct of energy production within the body, but can also be encountered daily in our environment. For example, the sun produces free radicals that impact us through the absorption of UVA and UVB rays. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress and damage to the cells of the body, including the vital components of the eye. Lutein, and other antioxidants, can help prevent this damage that can lead to degeneration of the macula within the eye and cause loss of vision over time.
A 2009 study published in The British journal of nutrition found 12 mg of lutein daily improved the vision of test participants suffering from vision loss as a result of long-term computer light exposure. A previous study, conducted in 2004 and published in the medical journal Optometry, confirmed the benefits of daily lutein supplement for the eyes.
Lutein for the Skin
Just like lutein protects the eyes from free radical damage, so does it for the skin. Free radicals can lead to the breakdown and aging of the skin, which results in the visible signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, loss of elasticity and discoloration. Lutein helps counteract the effects of free radicals, like those from the sun's rays, to keep skin youthful and radiant. Because lutein is absorbed into both the inner and outer layers of the skin, it can have more widespread benefits and even help the skin hold onto moisture and prevent dryness.
More Tips for Healthy Eyes and Skin
Protecting the skin and eyes should be a daily priority for long-term health. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
Wear sunblock year round, even when you aren't spending a lot of time outside.
Cover your eyes with dark sunglasses to block the sun's rays. The sunglasses should cover the entire eyelid.
Stay hydrated by drinking eight full glasses of water daily, minimum.
Get plenty of omega-3s into your diet by consuming healthy fats or taking a fish oil supplement.
Moisturize the skin after bathing, using a natural moisturizer free of artificial ingredients or harsh chemicals.
Avoid sleeping in contact lenses when possible.
As with any supplement, make sure to speak with your doctor before adding lutein to your daily regimen, especially if you're being treated for a medical condition or are pregnant or nursing. Those being treated for eye or skin conditions shouldn't change their current treatment regimen without guidance from their physician.
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